This is Kim Eppehimer, the Executive Director and CEO of Friendship House. Being that today is the last day of 2020 and our last #ThankfulThursday of the year, I thought it would be appropriate to once again hijack today’s post and reflect on all I am grateful for this year.
Everyone agrees it has been an incredibly difficult year. Almost 350,000 Americans have died of a raging pandemic. We suffered political divides, experienced painful racial inequity continuing to exist in plain sight, and witnessed millions of people experiencing homelessness for the first time.
This year, FH has tried to look for gifts as a sign of hope when we felt uncertain, scared or lost. They are reminders that when we feel things are falling apart around us, we can still take a step forward and have faith we will find firm ground.
Some of these gifts include our February Fundraiser at Hagley Museum, which feels like so long ago. This was our last pre pandemic event where we were able to gather in person, celebrating FH, hugging and eating together. This fundraiser raised necessary funds while hearing success stories from graduates of our programs.
We were able to add two new houses to our Transitional Housing program due to the generous hearts of ChristianaCare and Westminster Presbyterian Church.
We were able to open the Boxwood Empowerment Center as a direct response to the lack of access to resources people so desperately need in our Millcreek, Richardson Park and Newport communities thanks to Calvary Presbyterian church, United Way of Delaware and Delaware Community Foundation.
Our participation in this year’s Highmark Walk broke incredible records for us and for the Wilmington Highmark Walk! We raised over $70,000 with more than 500 registered walkers all over the country.
FH has given almost three times its usual annual financial assistance support with incredible support from many organizations and church partners. As people continue to call us with over paid bills, we have been able to respond with hope to each person.
And we found a new partnership with New Castle County through the opening of the Hope Center. We started this journey thinking we would be able to open winter shelter for several months safely. It has now become a new program run by FH working with our friends living on the street and now many families who are on the brink of homelessness through the state service center hotel voucher program. What an incredible way to end our year.
These opportunities, these gifts, were beacons of light in dark times. The support and faith in our organization from our community has been truly humbling and remarkable.
I think for me the greatest gift has been witnessing the resilience of our organization, through the incredible support of our community. You have heard us say many times we never stopped moving forward. We never closed, we never gave up or gave in to the difficult times. Instead, FH persevered, found creative solutions, and fought for the vulnerable and often invisible people experiencing street level living. We did this while keeping our faith in tomorrow by giving our all today.
As we turn the corner to 2021, I think I am most touched by the collective hope of the human race. Everyone is expecting next year to be “better”. Although I know next year will be hard as we continue to fight through this pandemic, manage the COVID-19 vaccinations, and face the ramifications of lost income for millions of people, the fact that billions of people have hope for a brighter tomorrow brings me peace. That many people can’t be wrong.
Thank you to each and everyone of you – from my heroic colleagues, our incredible board of directors, and our faithful supporters – you have carried this organization forward every stop of the way. I am truly grateful.
May you have a blessed, happy, healthy and safe tomorrow.